6sn7 and 6dj8 adapters are important to widen the choice
rme sounds robotic compared to mhdt musicality, to my ears...
I had been using a Border Patrol DAC SEi for about a year or so, and I loved it and had no urge to change - until I picked up an Istanbul on a whim, because I had always wanted to try an MHDT unit and the price couldn’t be beat. Well, the Border Patrol got sold the next week and I haven’t looked back.
The Istanbul is a real sleeper in the MHDT line, and it’s strange it doesn’t get more attention. I have been astonished at how good it is. It resolves just enough detail to distinguish it from a more rolled off unit like the Border Patrol, but it never gets into the edgy territory I often experience with "modern" sounding DACs. I find it extremely holographic and, as you say, romantic sounding, but without losing air and detail. I absolutely love it.
I installed the 5670 to 6922 adapter and rolled a 1970 Siemens E88CC/6922, which gave it a little more flavor and bite. Great combo, I highly recommend doing this.
Nice post @ccheung. I had a good long look at both before ordering the Pagoda. Ultimately, the Pagoda’s ability to output 24/192 without decimation was the deciding factor for me. If I were in need of another DAC I wouldn’t hesitate making another MHDT purchase and it would likely be the Istanbul.
The Istanbul is a real sleeper in the MHDT line, and it’s strange it doesn’t get more attention.
I feel the same way about the Pagoda. Funny, it seemed after a couple of good reviews the Orchid quickly became the darling of their line. It’s too bad in a sense because their other DACs seem largely ignored, and they shouldn’t be. Love mine.